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It’s been a busy few months with other work but I didn’t want to leave unrecorded an interesting visit to Amaravati Buddhist Monastery in Hertfordshire, UK, last October. Part of the Thai Forest Tradition, it’s run by the English Sangha Trust, who invited Sangharakshita to come back to Britain from India in 1964.
In my capacity as Triratna’s Liaison Officer, looking after Triratna’s co-operation with other Buddhist traditions in Europe, Sangharakshita had asked me some time ago how the Theravadin monastic sangha in Britain was faring. I had emailed Amaravati’s abbot, Ajahn Amaro, to find out - and our friendly correspondence led to an invitation to visit sometime.
I stayed the night in Amaravati’s guest cottage and spent a very enjoyable afternoon with Venerable Amaro. He showed me their half-built new home for elderly monks and said they would soon be building a home for elderly nuns. As we toured the monastery we talked of many things, including how they manage the inclusion of trans retreatants. Passing through their small shrine room, he related how Sangharakshita had visited a few years ago and stopped short at the sight of the Buddharupa on the shrine - the same Thai rupa had graced the Hampstead Buddhist Vihara where he lived in the 1960s.
Perhaps most surprisingly, Ven. Amaro produced a photograph of his first cousin once removed (his father’s cousin), IB Horner, a pioneer translater of the Pali scriptures into English. Having inherited the money from the sale of the Horner family’s building firm she left it to the Pali Text Society.